Council Review: New Plans for BAREC Agrihood, Mahan Criticized for Always Interrupting Speakers

By Robert Haugh

In a study session, City staff presented the latest plan for the BAREC Agrihood project. The CORE Companies have been working on this since 2015. Project for Public Spaces got involved to help plan the active areas in 2017.

Here are some interesting numbers:

  • It’s 5.8 acres with 1.5 acres for community spaces like a garden, agricultural area and outdoor kitchen.
  • The plan is for 165 affordable senior apartments, 160 market-rate apartments and 36 townhomes.
  • City staff is working with the County to use Measure A affordable housing funds. If they succeed, that’ll be $18 million for the project. Wow. That means there will be no City subsidy. Kudos to City staff.

The development will come back to the Council for approval on November 20.  Look for some discussion or debate about density. And there’s interest in more retail on the ground floor, maybe a restaurant.

Organic Waste Recycling Pilot Program

City staff gave an update. They’ve completed year one of a four-year pilot program.  4,800 Santa Clara households are experimenting with split carts.

According to the last survey, 57 percent of users are satisfied and 35 percent are dissatisfied. We thought the numbers would be more negative. We’ve heard a lot of complaints. One resident did show up to say that the carts are not very good and the City should be testing other methods as well. Good idea.

The state mandate is for the City to reduce 50 percent of organic waste by 2020. And reduce 75 percent by 2025.

Chamber Audit

Nothing happened on this item but it was actually interesting.

The auditor from TAP International could not make it to the meeting because of a personal emergency.  So the item has been tabled to November 13. That’s when the City staff said that the auditor is available. The TID audit will be finished by then, too. Makes sense.

But Councilwoman Patty Mahan was not happy. She said the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce has not had a chance to tell their side of the story. She wants it done before the November election.

Mayor Lisa Gillmor pointed out the Chamber has been getting their message out. They’ve been sending out a lot of emails to their membership and the public for months. They’ve been telling their side of the story. Gillmor has been getting them as a Chamber member.

Note to Mahan and Gillmor:  We’ve been getting a lot of them, too. The most recent one was yesterday. Note to Chamber: They’re all really long.

But things got interesting because Mahan kept interrupting Gillmor and City Manager Deanna Santana when they were talking.  But no one on the Council agreed with Mahan. So she didn’t even make a motion.

During public testimony, Santa Clara businessman and frequent council attendee Kirk Vartan got up to make a point about Mahan. He said that Mahan has a bad practice of interrupting her colleagues, City staff, commission candidates and the general public a lot at meetings.  He was nice and calm, but he did say that Mahan was being “hypocritical, at best.” Ouch.

You can watch the exchange on YouTube here. Mahan begins talking at 1:14:41 here. Vartan talks at 1:28:55 here.

At the end of the meeting, Vice Mayor Kathy Watanabe mentioned this site and our report from yesterday! It’s about the Chamber failing to file campaign reports with the City for four years.

Watanabe wants City staff to report back on any enforcement action. Of course, we’ll report on their report about the lack of reports.

Parade of Champions

The staff will be researching the cost to revive a great Mission City tradition. Reclaiming Our Downtown core member Ana Vargas-Smith requested the item. We hope it pencils out.

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